Biofeedback Eases Recurrent Abdominal Pain

Article excerpt

ORLAND -- Therapeutic biofeedback reduces pain intensity, pain frequency, and health care utilization among children with recurrent abdominal pain, according to two posters presented at the annual meeting of the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition.

Biofeedback "is noninvasive and it empowers the kids. It gives them the tools to make themselves better," Dr. Warren Shapiro said in an interview.

"Biofeedback has long-lasting effects." Unlike more common acute interventions, "it's really a long-lasting solution," coauthor Eric Sowder, Ph.D., said.

The researchers decided to assess biofeedback in this pediatric population because "there has not been very much in terms of long-lasting therapies for abdominal pain," said Dr. Shapiro, a pediatric gastroenterologist at the Southern California Kaiser Permanente Medical Group in San Diego.

Data indicate biofeedback is feasible for adults in a primary care setting (Appl. Psychophysiol. Biofeedback 2004;29:79-93). "It has not been researched as well in kids. But we see they are getting better," said Dr. Sowder, psychological assistant in biofeedback and behavioral medicine, Alliant International University, San Diego.

Dr. Shapiro, Dr. Sowder, and their associates assessed 64 children referred to pediatric gastroenterology with recurrent abdominal pain. Pain frequency, intensity, and autonomic nervous system functioning were compared before and after an average of six biofeedback sessions.

Biofeedback might help children with recurrent abdominal pain to adapt their pain behavior. The technique addresses a proposed deficit in their autonomic nervous system response to stress. Also, biofeedback might help these patients counter an enhanced subjective response to pain.

To test these theories, pediatric gastroenterologists referred participants with recurrent abdominal pain. …